Banned gay exhibit now displayed at university

Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A condensed version of a gay pride exhibit banned from a city library is now on display at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

''We thought it was important to have it up so people could see for themselves what the controversy was all about,'' Jim Mohr, chairman of Anchorage's PrideFest celebration, said Monday. The exhibit is part of PrideFest.

The display, described by organizers as family-friendly, includes posters and a rainbow-colored ''Celebrate Diversity'' banner. The message of tolerance is intact, organizers said, but the integrity of the exhibit's design is not.

''My heart just aches looking at it,'' said the Rev. Jan Richardson, whose Lamb of God Metropolitan Community Church helped create it. The exhibit was meant for a 30-foot wall at the library but is squeezed onto two panels at the Campus Center.

''The display the mayor didn't want you to see,'' reads a new sign.

The exhibit was taken down June 5 after Mayor George Wuerch decided the display was not appropriate for the Loussac Library

Nothing in the display is sexually explicit.

The UAA Student Affairs Division did not hesitate to sponsor it at its new venue. ''We're a very inclusive educational environment,'' said Linda Lazzell, UAA dean of students.

Wuerch has no problem with the display at UAA, said Dennis Fradley, the mayor's spokesman.

''If the university wants to put it up, it's great, it's fine, it's wonderful,'' Fradley said.

Monday afternoon, a few people puzzled at all the fuss.

''I don't see nothing wrong with this,'' said Darlene Fox, who works in the UAA residence life department.

Another university employee, Jared Edgar, initially walked right past it. ''It's a very mild display, really,'' he said.

The Alaska Civil Liberties Union has sued the city to get the exhibit installed at Loussac. At the city's initiative, the case has been moved from state to federal court.

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